August 16, 2013
By Ekta R. Garg
Moving from one state to another brings with it several transitions. For the kids one of those transitions includes a new school—or, in our case, two new schools.
In Salt Lake Five and Seven attended the same school. We would drive together in the morning, the kids chattering or fighting or laughing during the ride and me listening to them. But when we began inquiring about schools here in Illinois, to the girls’ dismay we found out that we would have to put Seven’s name on the waiting list for our first-choice school. Five got in, but she didn’t feel happy. If her “Di-Di”—her big sister—couldn’t go to the same school, then she didn’t want to go either.
We explained to the kids that while the teachers and the administration at Five’s school loved Seven, they had to follow the rules with regards to seat availability. And the kids have slowly begun to accept this course of events. I’ve found it hard to watch them go through this, but in some ways it’s good for them to understand this simple life lesson in a somewhat benign situation: sometimes, despite our best intentions and efforts, things still don’t work out the way we prefer.
Now that we’re more settled in the house and are on the cusp of the end of summer vacation, preparations for the new school year have begun in earnest. Last week we went to Seven’s school for the formal registration process and inquired about enrolling her in the second grade gifted class. Many of the schools here in town hold themselves to fairly high standards, and four of the elementary schools offer exclusive gifted classes. Seven got admitted to one of these schools, and we wanted to try to get her into the class because we felt it would fit her academic speed.
After we completed the registration process last Thursday, I called the center that handles the matter of testing students for the gifted classes. Seven would have to take the test, not me, but I already felt a slight level of baseline anxiety about the whole matter. Sympathy anxiety, I guess.
I spoke to a nice lady, Ms. W., who patiently explained that the dates for testing had passed, and she really couldn’t do much. I didn’t tell her about all the late-night hours I logged combing through the school district’s website to find the test dates. I simply begged and told her that despite our earnest attempts to find out information about the testing process, no one had shared that information with us. The lady hemmed and hawed for a minute, stalling as she tried to figure out just what to do with me and my request. Finally she agreed, a little crustily, to put our case before the director of the gifted program but didn’t make any promises. She’d call me later that afternoon.
I thanked her profusely and gently reiterated the fact that had we known about the dates we would have certainly complied with the deadline. I ended with another big thank you, crossed my fingers, and waited with the rest of the family for word. Given that we had some other tasks to keep us busy for a little while, we had enough to distract us.
A couple of hours after lunch Ms. W. called back and said the director had given permission for Seven to get tested for the gifted program. After spending about five minutes thanking her, I didn’t let the 8 a.m. test times for the second and third days of testing faze me. I assured her we would arrive on time.
Seven had to start her test at 10 a.m. on her first day, however, so she got to wake up at a reasonable hour. She mentioned feeling nervous, and we talked through the fact that the test proctor would most likely ask her things she had studied in first grade. She didn’t say much during the drive to the test center, but she also managed to keep her stress at a manageable level.
Once she went through the first day, Seven’s sunny personality buoyed her through the next two days of testing. She felt much better on her second morning, and by the time she got out of the car on the third morning she practically skipped to the test center. When Ms. W. came out halfway through Seven’s test to ask me in a quiet voice whether I could sign the release form for Seven to enroll in the gifted class, I knew in my heart even before Ms. W. made the request that Seven had easily crossed the threshold.
Later Wednesday afternoon we got to meet Seven’s new teacher, and we also took her shopping for school supplies and uniforms. And as we’ve slowly started putting all the pieces in place for Seven to begin the school year as prepared as possible, the girls have found it a little easier to digest that they’re going to separate schools. They’re still not a hundred percent thrilled about the idea, but they’re feeling better about it.
In addition to taking care of the brass tacks of schools, signing the kids up for dance classes, swim lessons, and art classes has given them some reassurance that after all the craziness of moving their regular routines will slowly start to take shape once again. And when their routines start to get back on track, then I know the entire family will feel a little more on track. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed summer vacation, even with the madness of moving, but I feel like we’re at a good juncture for a change in pace.
Here’s to the end of summer vacation and the start of a new school year and new adventures!